Two Union Mentions at the Oscars-Why Not More?

The Oscars were very disappointing this year, not because of the winners/losers which were pretty much expected. The show itself was a stinker, reeking of flop sweat from the ABC arrivals on. But even more disappointing to many was the slim mention of unions, despite the huge outpouring of support from around the world for those staging protests in Wisconsin.

Only Wally Pfister who won for best cinematography mentioned his union crew. Natalie Portman danced around the U-word, thanking her hair and make-up team and costumers, all of whom are union.

And Inception’s Gary Rizzo, who won the Oscar for Best Sound Mixing thanked

all the hard working boom operators and utility sound people that worked on the production crew. Union, of course.

Considering the well-publicized strikes by the Writers Guild and the Screen Actors Guild, plus the Writers’ Guild East’s successful efforts to unionize reality shows, one has to wonder why there weren’t more shout-outs to unions or onstage show of solidarity to the thousands of folks on the rotunda in Madison. In the past, there have speeches with mentions of issues, ribbons, buttons–a sense of concern. Why not now? Is there a new mandate to keep politics of any sort out of the show so as not to enlighten or offend? Isn’t that one of the points of art, even commercial art, to open the audience’s eyes, to comment, to cause change?

Backstage, winner Pfister went more in depth. ABC News reports the Academy Award winner said:

I think that what is going on in Wisconsin is kind of madness right now. I have been a union member for 30 years and what the union has given to me is security for my family. They have given me health care in a country that doesn’t provide health care and I think unions are a very important part of the middle class in America all we are trying to do is get a decent wage and have medical care.

Exactly. Hollywood is union town. So why the silence?

(However,on the progressive upside: Charles Ferguson director of the Oscar-winning Best Documentary Inside Job did land zinger on the banksters:

Forgive me, I must start by pointing out that three years after our horrific financial crisis caused by massive fraud, not a single financial executive has gone to jail, and that’s wrong.

And–while this ideally this shouldn’t be an oh wow moment because LGBT relationships ought to be as unremarkable as straight ones, only until DOMA is passed and all states accept civil union, they won’t be–a wife and a boyfriend were thanked by their same-sex partners.One more step…)

[photo Aron M. via creative commons]

Why Does James Carville Tell Us He Loves Miracle Whip?

Democratic strategist/CNN political contributor James Carville admits to loving Miracle Whip in this commercial. In another recent spot, Carville says he loves the funky spread, but his wife hates it, then asks

Does that surprise anybody?

To me Carville doing an ad for Miracle Whip is weirder than Bob Dole pitching for Viagra, especially because MW is aiming for a younger demographic; last year Kraft paid to have their spread/dressing/weird glop appear in a Lady Gaga video.

But putting in Carville in the commercial was kinda like this year’s Oscar broadcast; while aiming for a younger demographic, they missed completely,  diving into a generational abyss: While some Gen-Y’s may know  Carville from CNN, how many were paying attention during the 1990 election cycle’s Romeo and Juliet tinged Clinton campaign courtship between Carville and Matalin?

Is having Carville in the ads–which feature hip, kinda nerdy 20-somethings–an attempt to hook those in the 40+ age range through a flash of recognition and then get them to subconsciously believe that caring about Miracle Whip could make them all young and cool and stuff?

Or is the debate about Miracle Whip some huge issue of meta-importance? And did the ad work because I am writing about a food stuff I don’t keep in the house–nor do I entertain its cousin mayonnaise. If I have to make something with the latter, like once-a-year potato salad or deviled eggs, I buy the smallest jar I can find, then dump the what’s left because otherwise its remains will eventually funkify in the back of the fridge taking up valuable space meant for Piper Heidsieck, eiswein, cherries and leftover pizza.

Anonymous Koch-Block Shows Support for US Unions

In a show of solidarity for unions and American workers, Anonymous–the Internet-connected bunch of people who share some of the same ideals, best known for defending Wikileaks and before that for exposing a totalitarian cult–has turned their attention to Koch Industries and their front group Americans for Prosperity.

According to Politicususa.com, on Sunday Anonymous succeeded in crashing AFP’s website with a distributed denial of service and for a time knocking one of Koch’s brands, Brawny paper towels, off line. At the time of this writing the sites were back up. (Though many see DDOS as an act of civil disobedience, it is considered illegal. So kids, don’t try it at home. Especially because at this point some of the tools may now have sniffers attached that could track back to you).

Along with pulling the online Koch-block, Anonymous also calls for a boycott of  Koch-owned companies, including all Georgia Pacific paper and wood products and brands like Dixie, Brawny, Angel Soft, Quilted Northern, Sparkle and Mardi Gras.

Why AFP and the Koch brothers? In a speech on February 25  AFP’s Michigan Executive Director Scott Hagerstrom told attendees at he Conservative Political Action Committee’s annual conference:

We fight these battles on taxes and regulation but really what we would like to see is to take the unions out at the knees so they don’t have the resources to fight these battles.

Here’s what Anonymous had to say on AnonNews.org about they call OpWisconsin:

Koch Industries, and oligarchs like them, have most recently started to manipulate the political agenda in Wisconsin. Governor Walker’s union-busting budget plan contains a clause that went nearly un-noticed. This clause would allow the sale of publicly owned utility plants in Wisconsin to private parties (specifically, Koch Industries) at any price, no matter how low, without a public bidding process. The Koch’s have helped to fuel the unrest in Wisconsin and the drive behind the bill to eliminate the collective bargaining power of unions in a bid to gain a monopoly over the state’s power supplies. [emphasis added]

The Koch brothers have made a science of fabricating ‘grassroots’ organizations and advertising campaigns to support them in an attempt to sway voters based on their falsehoods. Americans for Prosperity, Club for Growth and Citizens United are just a few of these organizations. In a world where corporate money has become the lifeblood of political influence, the labor unions are one of the few ways citizens have to fight against corporate greed. Anonymous cannot ignore the plight of the citizen-workers of Wisconsin, or the opportunity to fight for the people in America’s broken political system. For these reasons, we feel that the Koch brothers threaten the United States democratic system and, by extension, all freedom-loving individuals everywhere. As such, we have no choice but to spread the word of the Koch brothers’ political manipulation, their single-minded intent and the insidious truth of their actions in Wisconsin, for all to witness.

(The GP website  states that Koch companies employ or support the jobs of more than 203,000 people nationwide according to analysis done by Harrah Analytics. The press release doesn’t mention how many of those jobs are union, include health coverage or what the pay level is).

With this action, Anonymous draws attention to the Koch brothers, their desire to acquire public utility plants, their policy front groups and attempts to strangle workers’ rights. And I wonder just how green their companies really are,  what exactly is meant by “acquisitions” and what effect those acquisitions have workers and the environment.

FDL Oscar Live Blog 2011

Happy 83rd annual Academy Awards! Are your tiaras in place? Bowls of popcorn and plates of caviar balanced on your knees? The bubbly poured and coffee brewing? Well let’s get down to business. BTW, this list is from the Academy themselves, and I have no clue if this order in which they’ll be presented, so we’ll have to stay a bit on our toes. Who’s your favorite to win–odds favorite and heart and soul favorite? And as always, snark and accolades welcome!

WINNER Actor in a Leading Role Colin Firth in “The King’s Speech”


    WINNER Actor in a Supporting Role Christian Bale in “The Fighter

    WINNER Actress in a Leading Role Natalie Portman in “Black Swan”

    WINNER Actress in a Supporting Roll Melissa Leo in “The Fighter”

    WINNER Animated Feature Film “Toy Story 3” Lee Unkrich

    WINNER Art Direction “Alice in Wonderland”

    • Production Design: Robert Stromberg; Set Decoration: Karen O’Hara

    WINNER Cinematography “Inception” Wally Pfister

    WINNER Costume Design “Alice in Wonderland” Colleen Atwood

    WINNER Directing “The King’s Speech” Tom Hooper

    WINNER Documentary (Feature) “Inside Job” Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs

    WINNER Documentary (Short Subject) “Strangers No More” Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon

    WINNER Film Editing “The Social Network” Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter

    WINNER Foreign Language Film “In a Better World” Denmark

    WINNER Makeup “The Wolfman” Rick Baker and Dave Elsey

    WINNER Music (Original Score) “The Social Network” Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

    WINNER Music (Original Song) “We Belong Together” from “Toy Story 3″ Music and Lyric by Randy Newman

    WINNER Short Film (Animated) “The Lost Thing” Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann

    WINNER Short Film (Live Action) “God of Love” Luke Matheny

    WINNER Sound Editing “Inception” Richard King

    WINNER Sound Mixing “Inception” Lora Hirschberg, Gary A. Rizzo and Ed Novick

    WINNER Visual Effects “Inception” Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley and Peter Bebb

    WINNER Writing (Adapted Screenplay) “The Social Network” Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin

    WINNER Writing (Original Screenplay) “The King’s Speech” Screenplay by David Seidler

    Best Picture

    • “Black Swan” Mike Medavoy, Brian Oliver and Scott Franklin, Producers
    • “The Fighter” David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman and Mark Wahlberg, Producers
    • “Inception” Emma Thomas and Christopher Nolan, Producers
    • “The Kids Are All Right” Gary Gilbert, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte and Celine Rattray, Producers
    • “The King’s Speech” Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Gareth Unwin, Producers
    • “127 Hours” Christian Colson, Danny Boyle and John Smithson, Producers
    • “The Social Network” Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca and Ceán Chaffin, Producers
    • “Toy Story 3” Darla K. Anderson, Producer
    • “True Grit” Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers
    • “Winter’s Bone” Anne Rosellini and Alix Madigan-Yorkin, Producers

    Oscar Red Carpet: Live Blog and Warm Up

    Welcome to the Firedoglake Red Carpet Liveblog, a chance to get our snark and cheer lubricated for the main event, the Academy Awards, which starts in an hour on whatever your ABC affiliate might be.

    Every year for over decade, my friend Mary Herczog and her husband Steve Hochman hosted a great Oscar party–a tradition that continued even after her death last year. It was pot luck, with the food  themed around the nominees. The easy out was the Best Foreign Film category: You could just bring, say, Chinese or French food or whatever  snacks from the nominated countries that year.

    One of last year's nominated noms

    This year, we her friends, are spreading the tradition of Nominated Noms to other parties we attend, which is why I’m sharing it with you. The most obvious of course is True Grit with its numerous  chances to win–and any number of ways to make grits (I like them plain with butter, or dolled up with sharp cheddar cheese, bacon and jalapenos). But there is the so-called Forrest Gump rule; that year so many shrimp dishes and boxes of chocolate showed up it was hard to make a balanced meal. So if you’re bringing the obvious, bring another dish to balance it out!

    The Crush, nominated for Best Short Film (Live Action) allows for a number of things for the table, from Orange Crush soda, to a crushed pineapple dessert.  Best Actor nominee and host James Franco (which seems a bit double-dippy, don’t you think–hosting and being nominated, though he is easy on the eyes!) could provoke a plate of franks, or for his role his role in 27 Days a tasty–though possibly tasteless–bone-in leg of lamb. You get the idea: Puns, references and even the obvious are welcome for the sharing.

    So while we watch the arrivals and dish on them, let’s also plan the virtual menu during commercials to whet our appetite for the main course: The 83rd annual Academy Awards.

    [photo of Oscar confetti: Aron M. via creative commons]

    Westboro Baptist Church Learns “Ask and Ye Shall Receive–Anonymously”

    Rule 14 of the Internet states:

    Do not argue with a troll — it means that they win.

    A few days ago Westboro Baptist Church either trolled or got trolled, depending on whoever is telling the story. A post went up on Anonymous’ message board that the zany non-group of nobodies who don’t know each other–the ones who harshed Scientology’s emeters, made their body thetans cry “uncle,” and helped Xenu party at all the best clubs, along doing a whole a lot of other widely reported anonymous actions related to free speech and Wikileaks and whatever–were going after WBC because they don’t care for the Phelps or their methods.

    The Phelps family, who think they speak for God and really just like publicity and suing, told Anonymous to

    BRING IT

    Anonymous who are very, very smart–like 13th level Marcabian chess played on the 5th Fleet– offered a mature, thoughtful and measured response on their  boards (which saw a huge leap in traffic after WBC publicized the “threats” thus proving God in the form of Ad-Sense loves Anonymous):

    We know that YOU in fact posted the Open Letter supposedly
    from Anonymous…We know how you work. You don’t give a flying fart about what
    your God thinks. But you know that putting God and Fag in a sentence
    together is guaranteed to make someone angry. You push it. You really
    push it. But you stay within the law. And then when some poor fool
    snaps, you sue them for infringing upon your rights.

    Which should have just stopped the issue. But no! Shirley Phelps went on David Pakman’s show to debate the issue with an Anon. And surprise: The Phelps’ sites got hit with a DDOS (distributed denial of service). In the Pakman interview with Shirley Phelps, Anonymous said that The Jester (th3 j35t3r)–an anti-jihadist hackivist–was responsible for that attack, confirmed by the The Jester himself.

    And as the interview with Shirley Phelps and Anonymous was  being conducted, the WBC spokesprophet taunted the Internet legion–who had successfully taken down Paypal’s blogs and the front pages of MasterCard and Visa, plus the websites of the Swedish and Tunisian governments, as well as facilitating info transmission from and within Iran, Libya, and Bahrain–calling Anons some fairly rude names and claiming that Anonymous couldn’t affect them–Anons put up this message on  a WBC site:

    Um, neener. Maybe Ms Phelps needs to review Matthew 7:7, Luke 11:9 and John 16:24, as well as teh Rules of the Internet. Though actually in her case, Rule 34 scares the shit out me.

    [HT: Dangerous Minds, TheNewCivilRightsMovement]

    Late Night: Lardish Limbaugh Wrong

    Rush Limbaugh holds himself as the authority on everything; the other day when a listener said he’d look something up the entertainer had said, Rush there was no need to, since he was The Authority.

    Well, yesterday the bombastic windbag flatulated:

    The problem is, and dare I say this, it doesn’t look like Michelle Obama follows her own nutritionary, dietary advice. And then we hear that she’s out eating ribs at 1,500 calories a serving with 141 grams of fat per serving.

    Actually, the problem is, while Rush may be used to downing ribs with that many calories, the rib–yes one rib– enjoyed by the First Lady at Kelly Liken in Vail, Colorado with her daughters, while tasty, carried less than half that caloric load.

    Mrs. Obama’s meal consisted of a braised ancho-chile short rib with hominy wild mushrooms and sautéed kale, with a starter of pickled pumpkin salad with arugula.

    Restaurateur Kelly Liken who owns the eponymous dining spot told the Daily News that the meat weighed in at about 600 calories and:

    A proper 5-ounce portion of protein is what nutritionists say we should have.

    adding that most of the fat is cooked off, and that the kale was grown by students at nearby Brush Creek Elementary School.

    But none of that stopped Rush from delivering a ham-fisted round two about Mrs. Obama, while never admitting he was wrong about the calories.

    “Glee” Casts Kathy Griffin as “Sarah Palin-Type”

    Today Fox-TV’s award-winning series Glee begins shooting an episode featuring comedian Kathy Griffin as

    a character named Tammy Jean, a middle-aged “recent Tea Party candidate and home schooler — a Sarah Palin type.”

    according to MovieLine.

    I guess Michele Bachmann and Christine O’Donnell aren’t famous–or ambitious–enough to reference  in a casting breakdown.

    Last year Glee’s creator Ryan Murphy told TV Guide that the show would be adding a Christian character to the glee club:

    We’ve taken a couple jabs at the right wing this year, so what I want to do with this character is have someone who Christian kids and parents can recognize and say, ‘Oh, look—I’m represented there, too!’ If we’re trying to form a world of inclusiveness, we’ve got to include that point of view as well.

    However, Griffin’s character is definitely not going to be joining the singing students of New Directions. I wonder if she’ll go up against Sue Sylvester or bond with the maniacal cheerleading coach.

    [photo: i heart him, creative commons]

    GOD HATES LIARS! And Westboro Baptist Church LIED About Anonymous Threats

    It’s pretty clear Westboro Baptist Church is a group of attention whores and liars–just read their signs,a nd it’s clear they are lying about God. And they really yanked their own sheets this time. They tried to troll Anonymous. And got pwnd.

    Last week there were rumblings from Westboro Baptist Church posted that some branch of Anonymous was sick of them and would:

    target your public Websites, and the propaganda & detestable doctrine that you promote will beeradicated; the damage incurred will be irreversible, and neither your institution nor your congregation will ever be able to fully recover.

    Westboro responded in kind with this flier demanding Anonymous BRING IT! Only Anonymous never made those threats.  Here’s what the faceless, leaderless group had to say:

    We know that YOU in fact posted the Open Letter supposedly
    from Anonymous.

    We know that you thrive on attention.

    We know that you are short of money.

    We know that this is a trap.

    We know how you work. You don’t give a flying fart about what
    your God thinks. But you know that putting God and Fag in a sentence
    together is guaranteed to make someone angry. You push it. You really
    push it. But you stay within the law. And then when some poor fool
    snaps, you sue them for infringing upon your rights.

    Some of Anonymous thinks you’re the worlds greatest Trolls.
    This is bollocks. You’re in it for the money.

    No doubt some of us will fall for it. But know this: most of
    us don’t give a damn. You are shamelessly riding on the /b/andwagon
    after Anonymous’ recent mass media coverage in order to get more
    publicity and more idiots to sue.

    Anyone can register on Anonymous’ message boards and post whatever. Only there are checks and balances. And you can;t troll the master trolls.

    [HT: TalkAboutEquality]

    Wisconsin Labor Protests: Pizza and Rock N Roll

    The Wisconsin protests over Republican Governor Scott Walker’s anti-union bill continue, with tens of thousands of union employees, families, and students gathering at the Capitol Building in Madison to demonstrate against Walker’s bill, which would strip public employee unions of most of their collective bargaining rights.

    Many protesters have been their for days, camping out in the rotunda. And now supporters from around the world are sending pizza, ordering over 5,000 slices from nearby Ian’s Pizza–even folks in Egypt have sent over ‘za, well as labor supporters in Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, England,  Finland, Germany, South Korea, and the Netherlands.
    And today, pizza was eaten to the sounds of guitarist Tom Morello, formerly of Rage Against the Machine, headlining a concert that includes Wayne Kramer of the MC5,  The Street Dogs, Tim McIlrath of Rise Against and Tom Cabel of Against Me.
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